Afternoon Tea
Should be provided, fresh supplies, bread and butter,
fancy pastries, cakes, etc.
Being brought in as other guests arrive.
–  Ms. Beaton’s Book of Household Management

Summertime is always full of family and friends, so why not surprise them by having tea alfresco?

Just recently, my friend asked me to help her organize a small tea party in her lovely garden.  In Southern California, the weather is often pretty hot during July, August, and September, so I told her to wait until the heat dies down, even though she had her heart set on holding the tea within the next month.

Being the tea enthusiast I am, I came up with Tea Time Alfresco – a light dinner that is simple, easy, and fun.  The magic of tea is that it is delicious anytime –  for breakfast, in the afternoon, for a casual affair, or for an elegant one.  It is possible to create many menus around tea because of its diverse origins.

So here it is – how to be a good host and have fun too!  Without the stress.

•   Plan according to your budget and make a list.
•   Invite a few friends.
•   A month before the event, send an evite for those with email or a paper invitation for those without.
•   Choose a time an hour or so before the sun goes down.
•   Clean out your fridge.

Here is my easy Italian-inspired tea menu.  When you plan your menu, think color!

•    Iced tea made fresh using your favorite tea as well as a warm green, oolong, or herb tea, along with sweeteners of choice
•    Scones (from your favorite bakery or Whole Foods)
•    Lemon curd (from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
•    Chicken salad (from your local deli), placed on endive
•    Tomato, basil, and small mozzarella balls mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper
•    Any type of pasta salad
•    Fruit, such as strawberries and grapes
•    Tarts (made or bought), served with whipped cream, strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries – or a gelato or sorbet in a cone

Alternately, consider making your Tea Time Alfresco a potluck and have your guests bring their own cups and saucers.  You supply the tea.

To create just the right atmosphere, don’t forget the fresh flowers, the music as guests walk in (such as new age or classical guitar), small white lights on the trees, and votive candles.  Have fun choosing plates, table clothes, and all the details.

Most of all, enjoy yourself and get creative!